|Publication number||US7946153 B2|
|Application number||US 11/587,173|
|Publication date||May 24, 2011|
|Filing date||Apr 22, 2005|
|Priority date||Apr 22, 2004|
|Also published as||CN1973201A, CN100588964C, DE102004019604A1, EP1738161A1, EP1738161B1, US20080016949, WO2005103668A1|
|Publication number||11587173, 587173, PCT/2005/4318, PCT/EP/2005/004318, PCT/EP/2005/04318, PCT/EP/5/004318, PCT/EP/5/04318, PCT/EP2005/004318, PCT/EP2005/04318, PCT/EP2005004318, PCT/EP200504318, PCT/EP5/004318, PCT/EP5/04318, PCT/EP5004318, PCT/EP504318, US 7946153 B2, US 7946153B2, US-B2-7946153, US7946153 B2, US7946153B2|
|Inventors||Maximilian Fleischer, Uwe Lampe, Hans Meixner, Roland Pohle, Elfriede Simon|
|Original Assignee||Micronas Gmbh|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (41), Non-Patent Citations (18), Referenced by (2), Classifications (8), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This patent application claims priority from International patent application PCT/EP2005/004318 filed Apr. 22, 2005 and German patent application 10 2004 019 604.4 filed Apr. 22, 2004, which are hereby incorporated by reference.
This invention relates in general to gas sensors and in particular to a method for improving the selectivity of FET-based gas sensors such that interfering effects of cross-sensitivities are minimized.
Gas sensors that utilize and evaluate the change in work function of sensitive materials as a physical parameter have been experiencing increased interest recently. The reasons for this are the ability to operate such sensors with relatively low operating energy (low operating power), the economical production and construction technology of such gas sensors (low production costs), and a broad palette of gases that can be detected with this platform technology (high versatility). Numerous different detection substances can be integrated into such structures. Their construction and mode of operation are disclosed, for example, in German Patent Applications 19814857, 19956744, 19849932 and 19956806. A number of materials can be used for sensitive layers in such gas sensors.
The basic structure of these prior art work function gas sensors is shown in
In the presence of the gas to be detected, an electrical potential that corresponds to the change in the work function of the sensitive layer (typically 50-100 mV) is developed on the sensitive layer which is coated on the bottom of the raised gate electrode. This potential acts on the channel of the FET structure and changes the source-drain current. The changed source-drain current is measured directly. Alternatively, the change in source-drain current is restored by applying an additional voltage to the suspended gate or to the transistor trough. The additionally applied voltage represents a readout signal that directly correlates with the change in work function of the sensitive layer.
A basic problem with all gas sensors including the type described above is their relatively limited selectivity. In other words, the sensors under some circumstances react not only to the target gas but also to other gases, which is called cross-sensitivity. The superimposed gas signals then lead in many applications to a situation in which the target gas concentration cannot be determined with adequate reliability from the sensor signal, since the sensor signal is distorted in an unacceptable amount by the cross-sensitivity. Up to now, it has been necessary to accept the distortion of the sensor signal. The distortion effect can be partially eliminated by intelligent signal evaluation adapted to the application, but this possibility is relatively limited for many applications. Alternatively, an additional sensor can be used that is sensitive specifically to the interfering gas and whose additional signal is used to compensate for the interference effect in an appropriate signal processor. However, this approach involves substantially higher system costs.
What is needed is an FET-based gas sensor having relatively reduced distortion of the sensor signal due to cross-sensitivity.
The invention is based on the recognition that the effect of cross-sensitivities can be sharply reduced by using an FET-based gas sensor in which not only the change in work function of a gas-sensitive layer (change in interface potential), but also the change in the capacitance of the gas-sensitive layer is evaluated. In this way, two physically independent signals are read from the gas-sensitive layer, which can each represent a sensitivity to a different gas.
The underlying physical mechanisms, the first causing a change in the work function in a reaction with gases, and the second causing a change in the capacitance of the sensitive layer, are widely different. Because of this, the two parameters demonstrate different gas sensitivities. In other words, the reactions to the target gas and to the interfering gas are different. Then if the reactions to both gases are known, the effect of the interfering gas on the signal can be compensated for, and with this the concentration of the target gas can be determined. Alternatively, both gas concentrations can also be calculated.
In accordance with the invention, essentially there are two sensors in one. That is, two independent signals have been generated by the manner of operation in one sensor structure. This saves the costs of not having a second sensor structure. In addition, gas sensors are subject to drift effects in long-term operation. Two separate sensor structures have a stronger tendency under some circumstances toward different drift phenomena than one sensor structure, which makes it difficult to compensate for the errors in the signal processor. Other advantages include additional data that can be read out of the system, but with the need for only one sensor structure.
These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent in light of the following detailed description of preferred embodiments thereof, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
Both classical suspended gate FET gas sensors (SGFETs) with a structure corresponding to
In the SGFET structure of
If the gate voltage is kept constant for specific application-related reasons, an alternating voltage can alternatively be applied to the transistor itself, i.e. to the bulk connection of the silicon or to the transistor trough in case of a corresponding structure. The basic function with this procedural method is the same as described above.
With a CCFET structure in which still another electrode, called a capacitance well, is attached below the floating gate, the alternating voltage can also be applied as described above through the top contact face of the sensitive layer, and also through the transistor. With this variant of gas sensor, however, the alternating voltage can beneficially be introduced through the capacitance well. This variant avoids both an excessively severe change in potential conditions in the air gap and impairments caused by applying potentials to the transistor. This also applies similarly to the variant of the SGFET known as the FGFET, as illustrated in
With respect to all variations of the present invention, an alternating voltage can be used either for capacitance readout simultaneously with the readout of the interface potential, with both the alternating and constant fractions of the source-drain current then being read, or with alternation between the two operating modes. It is not absolutely necessary to use an alternating voltage on the gate. Alternatively, a rapid change in potential can occur. The time curve of the action of this potential change on the source-drain current in this case likewise depends on the capacitance of the sensitive layer and can be utilized in precisely the same way to determine the capacitance. Alternatively, the transistor characteristic (i.e., the change of source-drain current with gate voltage) can also be evaluated. Since the resulting transistor slope is also determined by the air gap capacitances, this is directly dependent on the capacitance of the sensitive layer.
For use with gas-sensitive materials having different morphologies, a distinction is made between porous, or open-pored materials, and solid, continuous or closed-pored materials. With porous materials, there is often a relatively strong cross-effect of varying atmospheric humidity. This results from the deposition of moisture on the grains and causes a sharp change in capacitance of the porous layer. An example of this is BaCO3, which is prepared as an open-pored layer. This is characterized by relatively high sensitivity of the sensor material to CO2, a potential occurring from a change in work function on the outer boundary of the layer, which is independent of layer thickness. It is also characterized by cross-sensitivity to moisture that occurs from changes of capacitance in the pores of the layer, and therefore depends linearly on the layer thickness.
In a mixed readout, humidity changes can modify the useful signal to CO2 in an unacceptable way. If the capacitance is then read separately according to the invention, it is possible to make a correction of the measurement from the separately obtained moisture signal.
Other CO2-sensitive materials such as BaTiO3 or material variants doped with CuO, or all other porous sensor materials, can beneficially be utilized in a comparable way.
With respect to non-porous materials, the mechanism producing essentially moisture effects does not prevail. Here also, however, depending on the type of gas and the detection material, there are different effects of various gases on work function and capacitance. The former ordinarily occur from interface reactions of the gases, and the latter from reactions of the gas in the interior of the sensor layer.
This change in capacitance described above can be caused, for example, by a change in thickness and/or modification of the dielectric constant of the sensitive layer.
Although the present invention has been illustrated and described with respect to several preferred embodiments thereof, various changes, omissions and additions to the form and detail thereof, may be made therein, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
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|International Classification||G01N27/414, G01N7/00, G01N27/22|
|Cooperative Classification||G01N27/4143, G01N33/006|
|European Classification||G01N27/22, G01N27/414|
|Dec 11, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MICRONAS GMBH, GERMANY
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Owner name: MICRONAS GMBH, GERMANY
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